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9/14/2006
08:27 PM
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CBS Exec To Hollywood: Make More Mobile Entertainment Now

Cyriac Roeding's plan for a more interactive experience for consumers includes creating cross-media content and tying together TV and movies on cell phones and the Internet, where viewers can interact.

Entertainment companies should pump more resources into creating content that crosses multiple media platforms, said CBS Digital Media Vice President of Wireless Cyriac Roeding, issuing a direct challenge to Hollywood.

"We need to call out to the Hollywood community, to the creators of the content, and tell them we're looking for new forms of content that's designed for different platforms," Roeding said. "It requires us to reach out to the creative community, because it's not only a technical challenge."

Roeding sounded his call-to-action earlier this week at an industry event where executives from CBS, NBC, MTV, as well as content support companies MediaFLO and MobiTV discussed trends in mobile entertainment. It was all part of the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment Conference 5006, held in Los Angeles.

Roeding christened his multi-media plan the "Holy Grail" for mobile show business, and he implored Hollywood to create a more interactive experience for consumers. The strategy entails creating cross-media platforms, tying together content on cellular phones, the Internet, television and movies, where viewers can interact.

"Interlinks between the cell phone and the Internet create a new ecosystem," Roeding said. "The result, if you do it right, and this is why I call it the Holly Grail, will be a larger and more loyal audience connected to the show."

The mobile TV audience grew 45 percent to 3.7 million subscribers between April and June 2006, according to Telephia. Although a nascent market, mobile TV revenues rose 67 percent sequentially to $86 million worldwide in the quarter, the research firm said.

Later this month, CBS plans to offer viewers an interactive experience when the television show Jericho airs. The digital storyline combines content on the Internet and cellular phones. "Writers had to create the script with multiple mediums in mind," Roeding said, suggesting it involves more than SMS polling where viewers vote on their favorite American Idol vocalist.

The U.K. market has a substantial lead in the use of SMS polling. But hit programs like American Idol have helped to popularize it in the United States, where more men tend to participate than women, according to M:Metrics. The research firm suggests 10.1 percent of men vs. 7.9 percent of woman participated in SMS polling in the United States between April and June 2006.

Making it all possible, BlackBerry's Pearl phone, Sprint's Treo 700p and 700wx, Nokia's e62, and Sony Ericsson's P990i, examples of the latest breed in handsets demonstrated at the show aimed at consumers. They run both a variety of business and entertainment applications, such as e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, television, movies and music.

Mobile content network MobiTV CEO and cofounder Philip Alvelda expects all major carriers to make mobile television available within the next six to nine months. Sprint Nextel already offers about 50 television channels. Twenty from various networks run live to Sprint subscribers. They are repurposed for mobile content by MobiTV through roughly a two-second delay. The remaining channels offer news and entertainment clips.

As more handsets offer live television, advertising for mobile entertainment will see explosive growth. Appealing to the masses by reducing cost to consumers will mean more ads. Making mobile more affordable by adding advertising has become the argument to support collecting information about the consumer.

Today, consumers pay for all mobile services, but some expect that to change with more ads and the ability to track them. "Every ad person on every show can tell you here's the ratings, there's the share, it's the top amongst the demographic in its time slot, with the numbers on the top of your head," said Greg Clayman vice president of wireless strategy at MTV Networks. "But with mobile, you say 'it's mobile. It's on the phone, isn't that cool?'"

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